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Why was Radio 1’s BNPgate ignored earlier?

2:19 pm - October 13th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    

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Why did the BBC’s soft BNP interview take so long to become a national story? – asks Roy Greenslade at the Guardian.

A bit of background. Last week or so Radio 1 ran an amazingly soft and pathetic interview with two BNP members. It was helpfully titled ‘Young BNP members explain beliefs‘, but later hurriedly changed to ‘BNP members challenged on beliefs‘, once it became a bit obvious the first headline wouldn’t do them any favours (h/t Sarah).

There was outrage on many blogs over the interview, and the editor of the programme published a pathetic defence of the show which was further taken apart.

Greenslade has, helpfully, a good run-down of how the story slowly evolved until it went all over the press once the Mail on Sunday picked it up and ran a three-page splash. So why didn’t it happen earlier?

Perhaps there are a few agendas at work here.

Perhaps Guardian journos didn’t want to bash the BBC and so they didn’t run it initially. Besides, complaining about an extremely soft interview isn’t necessarily a story in itself. The Daily Mail has a more straight-forward BBC-bashing agenda, though admittedly it has also been running anti-BNP articles (while airing their talking points on other columns/stories.)

But once the Mail on Sunday went big with: BBC storm as two of BNP’s most notorious activists are invited on Radio 1 to insult Ashley Cole – it suddenly got picked up all over the press.

Keep in mind it has been all over the blogs repeatedly. Here is a list:
Mehdi Hasan at New Statesman
The F Word
Pickled Politics
Sarah Ditum’s Paperhouse
853 blog
Harry’s Place
Nothing British about the BNP
Lenin’s Tomb
Ms Kitton
Time Out
… and perhaps more.

To answer the question in the title of this post – it’s that the Daily Mail is good at spotting and creating stories, especially when it has a specific agenda. But it could have been turned into a story when Radio 1’s Rod McKenzie published this lame attempt to defend the interview.

Or it could be that journos only read a narrow range of certain blogs and take their political temperature from those. I‘m deeply surprised Greenslade himself missed out all those blogs.

But this also comes back to the point I raised earlier about BBC journalism. It isn’t proper journalism when you invite a flat-earther and a scientist on to a debate and have them slog it out. It isn’t proper journalism when you present the overwhelming evidence against global warming as ‘one side of a controversial debate’ – that’s just disingenuous.

The same will happen on Question Time next week when Nick Griffin turns up and says a whole bunch of things which, in many cases, may not be true but won’t be challenged because the other panellists won’t have read up on them. I had hoped that perhaps a better way for the media to deal with the BNP is by having them on programmes and challenging their views and engaging them directly via preparation. Radio 1’s journalism shows even that isn’t a safe bet any more.

Lastly, all this highlights that while the mainstream media lives in a cosy consensus – blogs play a vital role in giving light to real stories that are often ignored.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media ,Race relations

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Reader comments

1. Luis Enrique

I think this book has a lot to say about how and why the media picks up certain stories at odd times for hard to fathom reasons

(although this is just a pretentious way of saying the media jumps on stories once they “become news” somehow, and the process of how that happens is pretty random)

Still with the ‘BNPgate’?

Do you have any idea what that makes you look like?

3. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Still with the ‘BNPgate’?

Do you have any idea what that makes you look like?


One piss weak interview is neither here nor there, particularly against the background of the bbc support the bnp have received over the past few years.

Typical of socialists to expect the views of others to be hidden and free speech to be denied. The BNP need to be exposed and challenged – they have succeeded thus far in the very absence of this. Stop being gutless and take them on in debate – not violent confrontation. They are a very low quality bunch of individuals and exposure should ridicule them. What a spectacle for the rest of society – gutless socialists trying to impinge free speech versus offensive idiotic ranting racists….I hope to see the back of both of you

5. Dick the Prick

I was chatting with our only BNP councillor the other day (felt a bit dodgy but we both smoke fags) and how we laughed at Labour and their terror of the BNP. My enemy’s enemy etc etc

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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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